The Washington Post\’s Krissah Thompson has an essay in today\’s Washington Post, titled “Ferguson is now a symbol, not a place”.
I agree with the title of the essay. And I agree with a lot of what Ms. Thompson says within it.
But when she compares it to Selma, Alabama? I have to speak up.
Here are Ms. Thompson\’s references to that city:
Thoughit has been less than four months since Michael Brown was killed, thetown seems to have entered the pantheon of places that stand asmetaphors. Ferguson\’s symbolism now sits alongside Selma\’ssignificance in the civil rights movement, Columbine as a symbol ofteenage rage and gun violence, and Kent State\’s historic link toanti-war protests.
Theresistance to civil rights was once Selma\’s shame. Now it is hometo museums and memorials chronicling the 1960s movement for racialequality.
It\’spossible that Ferguson could someday experience a transformation likeSelma\’s.
Is she kidding? Someone get Krissa Thompson a history book.
But while she\’s waiting for it, allow me to help out.
-A half century ago, Selma, Alabama was a segregated city. Though most residents were Black, there were Whites-only restaurants, movie theater sections, rest rooms, and other places. In Ferguson, Missouri most residents are Black, but there are no Whites-only facilities of any kind. Black people are 100% free to go to and be in any place they care to be.
-Selma had “jim crow” laws specifically designed to prevent Black people from voting. Ferguson has no such laws; there is one set of rules which applies 100% to all citizens there, regardless of color;
-Selma protesters demanded the inequalities described above must end – and were beaten, billy-clubbed and arrested when they did so. Ferguson protesters are demanding that the findings of a mixed-race grand jury be ignored – and were allowed to loot, then burn down, much of the town\’s business district before law enforcement did almost anything about it.
-The Selma protests educated people of all colors about how unjust laws in some parts of the south still were, and had a major impact on eventual passage of the Civil Rights act. The Ferguson protests appear to have done little other than harden and polarize racial attitudes.
Do you see a parallel between Selma and Ferguson? Because I sure don\’t.
Maybe Ms. Thompson should think a little harder about this – along with the editors who let that ridiculous comparison through and into the pages of their newspaper.